Cultivation of the grape vine



Wine is produced from the fermented juice of the grapes of the Vitis Vinifera, a species of vine known to man for a millennium, and as its Latin name testifies, associated since ancient times with winemaking

A number of natural factors are crucial  for the successful cultivation of the grape vine:

The Climate – Vines grow in the temperate climate zones, generally between latitudes of 30 and 50 degrees in the northern hemisphere and the 30 and 40 degrees in the southern hemisphere.

The Altitude – Vines thrive at 800 to 1,600 feet above sea level. Vineyards are rarely planted above 2,000 feet, but there are exceptions, such as Italy’s alpine Valle d’Aosta and parts of Chile where vines grow on slopes as high as 4,000 feet.

The Soil – Soils types have a determining effect on the character and quality of wines. Grapes from vineyards in sandy or siliceous terrains generally produce lighter, fresher wines to drink young, while those from calcareous clay soils make wines that are richer in body and better suited to aging.

The Latitude – In cool climate zones grapes ripen best on south-facing slopes with good exposure to the heat and light of the sun. Well-ventilated sites help to prevent the formation of mold on the grapes. Night-day temperature variations, found especially on higher slopes, favor the development of aromatic substances in the grape.

Grapes grow in bunches of varying size, consistency and color. The bunch has a stalk that makes up 3%-5% of its weight. For the purposes of wine making, the grape has three essential components:

The skins6%-10%
The color of a wine derives from the substances contained in the skins of the grape (yellow pigments are contained in both light and dark grapes; red pigments only in red grapes). The skins also contain tannins and yeasts, the mono-cellular fungi responsible for the fermention of grape juice.

The pulp – 82%-90%
The pulpy interior of the grape contains a juice composed of water, sugars, acids, mineral substances and vitamins. The pulp is white on both red and white grapes with the exception of the Alicante which is a  a teinturier, a grape with red flesh.

The seeds – 2%-4%
The pips of the grape are rich in tannins and oils. Only a few grape varieties are suited to produce fine quality wine, and each wine grape has its own unique combination of characteristics including color, size, skin thickness, acidity, yield per vine, and flavors.

While many grape varieties are used to produce wines, only a few grapes have distinguished themselves as suited for the production of fine wine. Even these “noble grape varieties” must have the right micro-climate and be treated with the correct wine making techniques to live up to their potential.

Biodynamic Farming and Viticulture



A holistic and mystical approach to farming, when the entire estate becomes a self-sustaining, self-regulating ecosystem

Green farming spans from sustainable, to organic and to the more holistic biodynamic approach.
Biodynamic farmers also follow the natural rhythms of the earth and the moon’s lunar phases to increase the “life force” of the soil and, thus, create a wine that is completely authentic to the site

Grape growers who have adopted biodynamic methods noted stronger, clearer and more vibrant tastes, as well as wines that remain drinkable longer.

A Biodynamic Farm Is a Living Organism. Each biodynamic farm or garden is an integrated, whole, living organism. This organism is made up of many interdependent elements: fields, forests, plants, animals, soils, compost, people, and the spirit of the place.

Biodynamic wines are more floral, biodynamic producers also note that their methods tend to result in better balance in growth, where the sugar production in the grapes coincides with physiological ripeness, resulting in a wine with the correct balance of flavor and alcohol content, even with changing climate conditions. In a blind tasting of 10 pairs of biodynamic and conventionally-made wines, conducted by Fortune and judged by seven wine experts including a Master of Wine and head sommelier, nine of the biodynamic wines were judged superior to their conventional counterpart. The biodynamic wines “were found to have better expressions of terroir, the way in which a wine can represent its specific place of origin in its aroma, flavor, and texture. The movement toward green practices and organics, has been steadily increasing in all realms of agriculture, and in the wine industry.

INTEGRATED VITICULTURE
Also known as sustainable farming, this is the least stringent area of “green farming” and the most widespread. Here a wide variety of agricultural practices are used which are ecologically sound but are also economically viable. Farmers have more flexibility and will generally recycle, conserve water, use renewable resources, and minimize the use of chemical products, but chemical products can, in fact, be used in sustainable farming.

ORGANIC VITICULTURE
Organic farming is similar to sustainable (or integrated) in striving to conserve soil and water and use renewable resources, but it has some important additional rules and regulations. Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical-based fertilizers around all crops. Here all produce is high in nutrition, obtained with minimal use of auxiliary energy, and based on cultivation technology which has a minimal affect on the environment. There are many degrees of certified organic throughout the world, varying again by nation and by region.

BIODYNAMIC VITICULTURE
Biodynamic farming is the most complicated philosophy of “green farming”. It is more of a holistic and mystical approach to farming, in which the entire wine estate becomes a self-sustaining, self-regulating ecosystem. Biodynamic treats “the farm as a living organism which is connected to the dynamic rhythms of the earth and atmosphere, working with the living soil and the invisible energies of nature”. Similar to organic farming, biodynamic farming eliminates all chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Biodynamic farmers also follow the natural rhythms of the earth and the moon’s lunar phases to increase the “life force” of the soil and, thus, create a wine that is completely authentic to the site. The needs of the farm are met completely from within; using 100% recycled organic waste, along with incorporation of various indigenous vegetation and prey/predator animals to make the estate complete.

Grape growers who have adopted biodynamic methods noted stronger, clearer and more vibrant tastes, as well as wines that remain drinkable longer.

Biodynamic wines are more floral, biodynamic producers also note that their methods tend to result in better balance in growth, where the sugar production in the grapes coincides with physiological ripeness, resulting in a wine with the correct balance of flavor and alcohol content, even with changing climate conditions. In a blind tasting of 10 pairs of biodynamic and conventionally-made wines, conducted by Fortune and judged by seven wine experts including a Master of Wine and head sommelier, nine of the biodynamic wines were judged superior to their conventional counterpart. The biodynamic wines “were found to have better expressions of terroir, the way in which a wine can represent its specific place of origin in its aroma, flavor, and texture.

The Demeter Biodynamic® Farm and Processing Standards

The Standard protects against manipulation of the Biodynamic agricultural ingredients as much as possible to allow for their integrity to define the product. Products must contain significant and verifiable Biodynamic ingredients to be allowed to use the term Biodynamic on product packaging and labeling, in order not to mislead consumers.

Demeter Biodynamic Certification

Demeter USA is the only certifier for Biodynamic farms and products in America. It is part of a world-wide organization, Demeter International, that was first formed in 1928 and named for the Greek goddess of agriculture, to advocate Biodynamic agriculture and to certify Biodynamic farms. Demeter remains the oldest ecological certification organization in the world, active in fifty countries around the globe.

Sources: Wikipedia, FortuneBiodynamic Association